Ol' Yeller

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Boulevard Inn
1912, Arthur J. Russell; 1939–1940, Edwin J. Ivey, Inc. (Elizabeth Ayer). 1915 Interlaken Dr. E.
  • (Courtesy the King's County Assessor's Office)
  • (Courtesy the King's County Assessor's Office)

This property was originally developed in 1912 as a fashionable dining and entertainment venue by Leota O. Hartley (1882–1937). At the time, the property was essentially suburban in nature, a characteristic that it has maintained due to the three-quarter-acre size of the tract and generous landscaping. For 25 years, the Boulevard Inn was a destination for parties hosted by local university fraternities and sororities, as well as local society luminaries.

Boulevard Inn is a two-story, wood-framed structure, whose first floor has a rectangular footprint, while the second floor has a T-shaped plan that allows for elevated terraces. The exterior walls are clad in narrow clapboards, and the multi-light, double-hung windows feature painted wood shutters that evoke the New England Colonial Revival. The first floor originally featured multiple dining rooms for private small parties, while the second-story ballroom accommodated larger functions that could spread onto the elevated terraces.

Hartley had the experience needed to create a successful entertainment venue. She studied at the Lasell Seminary for Young Women in Boston and trained in voice in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, followed by several years of cross-country entertaining. Years of on-the-road performances gave Hartley a wide network of professional contacts that created instant credibility for the Boulevard Inn as an “in place” for high society. Famed British actor George Arliss (1868–1946) feted his fellow cast members of the play Disraeli for Christmas in 1914 and Ruth Chatterton (1892–1961) rehearsed a new play, Into the Sunlight, at the Boulevard Inn prior to its debut in San Francisco in 1921.

Boulevard Inn was built by Illinois-native and Boston-trained architect Arthur J. Russell. After the inn's opening, Russell essentially abandoned his architectural practice to assist Hartley in managing the venue for a decade. After Hartley’s death in 1937, the property was sold to settle her estate. Eugene and Betty Eldridge purchased it in May 1939 with the intent of razing the existing structure and building a new house. After working with Elizabeth Ayer of Edwin J. Ivey, Inc., the Eldridges elected to retain a significant portion of the structure and construct a new wing as part of their transformation of the inn into a single-family residence. In addition, Ayer reused building hardware and fireplace mantels from the demolished portion of the Boulevard Inn. She added full-height Roman Doric pilasters at the building corners, transformed the hipped roofs into gables, and created a diagonal entrance at the corner of the new and old wings. Ayer, a native of Thurston County, Washington, was the first woman to graduate with a degree in architecture at the University of Washington (1921). She also became the first woman licensed to practice in the state in 1930. In 1934, she became a shareholder in the newly incorporated firm of Edwin J. Ivey, Inc., of which she became president in 1940 after the death of Ivey, her mentor of two decades. Around 1952, Ayer partnered with Rolland D. Lamping but by the time of her retirement in 1970 she was a sole practitioner.

In 1980, the former inn was purchased by Ann Wilson of the rock band Heart. Inadvertently, this brought the structure back to its roots, as the owner was a woman with a professional career in music and entertaining. Wilson lived in the house for nearly four decades, creating a quiet retreat from her demanding career. She altered the property with the addition of an entrance gate (1981) and a swimming pool and cabana (1987). During Wilson’s ownership, she named the property “Ol’ Yeller,” a name that has been maintained by the subsequent owner.

Although Ol’ Yeller has an appearance distinct from its origins as the Boulevard Inn, enough of the original structure remains, such that it can allow one to appreciate its associations with three successful women—Leota Hartley, Elizabeth Ayer, and Ann Wilson.

References

“Miss Leota Hartley’s Society Tavern Opens Its Doors To Public.” Seattle Times, November 3, 1912, 19, 22.

“New Home of Eldridges Has Colonial Theme.” Seattle Times Society Section, March 3, 1940, 4, 6.

Rash, David A. “Edwin J. Ivey.” In Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, edited by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, 186–191. 2nd edition. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014.

Roberts, S. Sian, Mary Shaughnessy, and David A. Rash. “Elizabeth Ayer.” In Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, edited by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, 254–259. 2nd edition. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014.

Writing Credits

Author: 
David A. Rash
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Data

Timeline

  • 1912

    Built
  • 1939

    Altered as private residence
  • 1987

    Swimming pool built

What's Nearby

Citation

David A. Rash, "Ol' Yeller", [Seattle, Washington], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WA-01-033-0002.

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